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Determined June 20, 2016 01:25 PM

Moving To Spain To Learn Spanish
Hello All.

I am a 19 year old student on gap year. I will be in Madrid from August - December learning spanish.

I have taken Spanish for years in the U.S. Like many of my peers I know some, but limited Spanish. My class room experience totals roughly 500 hours over 6 years. However, I did not assimilate much and could not hold a basic conversation in Spanish. This limited knowledge gained in a large time studying should not be used to calculate my ability to learn, Spanish specifically. At the time I was unmotivated and in a inefficient US classroom. I am disciplined and motivated. These two characteristics have proven sufficient to obtain (my) edification and understanding. I do not have the ability to spend on a program and substitutes exist for class room and organized learning.

I am in the beginning stages, creating a POA:

1. Obtaining housing in Madrid. Cementing travel plans.
2. Creating a condensed, rigid, four month plan that will result in me learning as much of the language as possible. I would like to be somewhat fluent and believe 4 months ample time for that.

I have lived alone for the past few years, been self sufficient, and traveled to a majority of US states and 10+ countries. Culture shock and fear is not a pressing concern.

I have had this account for numerous years and it has been a lifelong goal. Finally I will have the opportunity to dedicate myself to learning this language. There is much more to cover, but think this is a good start.

I am incredibly grateful for any advice, messages, support, and mentorship!

pjt33 June 21, 2016 02:21 PM

I have one question: why Madrid? If you have a reason then that's fine, but if you've just chosen it by default because it's the capital, you might want to reconsider. My opinion (others may chip in to agree or disagree) is that of all the cities in Spain, Madrid is the one where it's easiest to coast with English. If you go to anywhere in the "provinces", I think you'll find that people are less likely speak to you in English rather than Spanish. If you go somewhere with a co-official language then you'll see a lot less public signage in Spanish and English, because it will be in Spanish and Catalan / Valenciano / Basque / Gallego (delete as appropriate). And also, since you mention financial constraints, the capital is the most expensive place to live.

Manuel June 22, 2016 10:58 AM

Regarding people in Madrid talking to you in English instead of Spanish, as pjt33 mentioned, I don't think that has to be a problem if you tell everyone you are there to learn Spanish and specifically ask them to speak only Spanish to you. Not everyone may do it, but I am pretty sure you can find many who will.

It may be the most expensive place to live, but it's also the BIGGEST place to live, which means it has a lot things to do, places to visit, activities to take part in, people to meet etc.

I do agree with pjt33 that you should have a good reason for picking a city to go to. But in the end, your determination in learning the language will matter most with regard to how much you learn.

poli June 22, 2016 12:33 PM

I've been to Madrid and used Spanish exclusively. Spanish is my second language, and I could speak it better, but nobody ever answered me in English when I spoke with them.

JPablo June 22, 2016 04:13 PM

Bueno, Determined, te empiezo a comunicar en español, para que te vayas acostumbrando.

En agosto hace mucho calor en Madrid... y la gente se va de vacaciones a la costa.

En diciembre hace un frío que pela.

Yo de ti, me iba a Valencia o a Barcelona en el verano, y me iba Granada para Octubre...

I hope you could understand what I wrote above. If you have questions, let me know, and we can help you.


Determined June 23, 2016 01:37 PM

I do not have reason to pick any specific city. My intention in going is to dedicate myself to learning spanish, which I can do in any city across the country.

Recommendations are definitely recommended. Madrid is significantly more expensive than most other Spanish cities which has me thinking twice. However, like pretty much everywhere, it is significantly less expensive than Boston (where I have lived all my life). I do like the city and want to stay somewhere with a lot of activity.

Anyone want to add there two cents of where I should consider going?

Thanks for the replies so far everyone.

Also, I want to be somewhere with many students, who, like me, are dedicated to the art of learning spanish. This along with many locals. Night life is not the most imperative but something also desired.

Like Jpablo mentioned being in the north/middle of spain from august till october and then going to the south is alluring and something I am considering.

My writing right now is scattered as I am just trying to get out all my thoughts to best figure out where I should be

Also, I need to get a visa if I stay over 90 days. Say if I stay 50 consecutive days in the north, then go out to central europe for a week to see a friend, and come back and stay another 60 or so days, do I still need a visa since I don't spend 90 days there continuously? This is something I definitely need to answer.

ROBINDESBOIS June 26, 2016 10:13 AM

I advice you to go to cities around Madrid, such as Segovia, Valladolid, Avila or even Burgos. Bilbao and San Sebastián are good options too, Alicante too. Madrid is Ok too. Not many people speak good English to answer you in English. But there are lots of Americans. Go to Castile, their diction is perfect, the cities are cheap and most people do not speak English, and most important there are not many americans to speak of. I live in Madrid and somehow or other, Americans tend to flock together, I know quite a lot. And many of them run businesses here. Segovia and Avila are so close to Madrid that you can visit the capital some weekend.
Avoid living in Andalucia because their accent is not good, I mean not very clear for a Spanish learner . Avoid Cataluña too, they are not very happy with the Spanish language.

wrholt June 26, 2016 10:16 PM

Regarding your visa questions: I have heard various things from friends who have travelled in Europe, but I haven't gone for a long stay myself, so I don't know that I have accurate information; I recommend checking with the Spanish embassy or consulate nearest you to verify the rules.

I *think* the 90-day rule for visiting Spain is actually the rule for a continuous stay inside the Schengen area. If you don't have a visa for a stay longer than 90 days, then you have to leave the Shengen area completely, and then re-enter to start a new stay. I don't know whether there is a minimum time you must wait between departure from the Schengen area and reentry into the Schengen area. Going from Spain to another country that is inside the Schengen area doesn't count.

Determined August 07, 2016 06:29 PM

Hello everybody - I know it has been awhile but I appreciate everyone who responded.

I am going to Valencia on Tuesday for 55 days and Madrid for 5 then going to see a friend in another part of Europe for 30. Then I am leaving because I did not want to go through the Visa process.

I have sent my books to my apartment and will be much more active on the forum as I try to learn spanish. I will look for people in Valencia to language exchange.

Again, i thank everyone for their input because without some of you I am not sure I would be in Valencia next week.

Please post if you have any feedback or recommendations for my stay in Valencia!

Rusty August 07, 2016 07:46 PM

Surround yourself with Spanish people and media, Colin. Para conocerlo hay que vivirlo.

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